Friday, January 13, 2012

A Sunday Surprise - Canning Crushed Tomatoes

     I received a call Saturday night from my friend Stephanie.  Stephanie and I used to be next door neighbors when we lived out in rural Cottageville.  We've both moved since then.  The Wands are in suburban Moncks Corner, and she is still out in the country!  We haven't seen each other in awhile and her neighbor happens to be a tomato farmer.  This wonderful man keeps giving Stephanie boxes of tomatoes - even more than her family of seven can eat.  After the third box arrived, she gave me a call and said that if I'd meet her after church, she give me a box.  Are you kidding?  Absolutely!!!!!  Only the Lord can bless you with an entire box of free, ripe tomatoes in January!!!!
     I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them at first.  I love homemade salsa, but then I'd have to eat that with chips and I'm on a diet so - that wasn't a good idea.  I finally decided to crush them and can them so I'd have a stash of homemade tomato sauce.
Some of the tomatoes were starting to get little spots so I had to work fast.  Now, I want to reassure you that after I had picked up my box of tomatoes, I went upstairs and thought I'd lie down for a few minutes while my husband did some work on the computer.  I, uh, woke up about two hours later.  Therefore, I did get some rest on the Sabbath!!!!

First, I cut out any bad spots and slice an "x" in the bottoms of all the tomatoes, to make it easier to remove their skins.

     My first little batch.

My water bath canner (on the right) is filled and set to high.  My first batch of tomatoes is waiting to be blanched in the boiling pot of water on the left.  I have a strainer set up on a large bowl to place my tomatoes in after I remove them. 

                       My "Ball Blue Book of Preserving" is available if needed.

                                                    The maters go in.

 After the tomatoes have been boiled a few minutes, lift one out and see if the skin is puckered by the "x".  Remove your tomatoes and drop in another batch.  Repeat until all of your tomatoes are done.

I also sanitized several quart-sized jars by lowering them into the boiling water in the water bath canner and leaving them in there for several minutes.

                           Here are the finished tomatoes, cooled and ready to be peeled.

         The skin peels off very easily.  You blanch and peel peaches the same way.
Cut out the cores. Some folks like to remove the seeds, but I like to leave all the good stuff in!

                    It looks like a tomato crime scene.  The evidence is all over me.

           I cleaned up a little and set up the food processor and another container.


This is the fun part!  Drop the maters in the top and watch 'em go smoooosh!

                                                  Maters is messy business.

                               I added a teaspoon of salt to each quart-sized jar.

          I also added two tablespoons of lemon juice to help preserve the sauce.

Here is where I think I messed up.  I should have simmered my sauce on the stove for at least fifteen minutes to get more water out of the tomatoes before ladling them into the jars, but I forgot and ladled them right out of the food processor.  It was not that big of a deal, but I think the sauce expanded and pushed some liquid out of the tops during processing.  This made my finished sauce lower in the jar than I would have liked.  It is also possible that it happened because I processed the tomato sauce too long (I looked at the wrong time in my book).  I need new glasses!!!!!! (Remember the elephant garlic?)

                                      I placed the sanitized lids onto the jars.

I removed the rings from the boiling water and then took them from the tongs with my fingers to gently screw them on.  They cool very quickly and can be touched by the time you get from the stove top to the table.  Do not screw the lids down too tightly.

I filled a total of seven quarts.  It might not seem like much, but that is comparable to 15 14.5 oz. cans of tomato sauce!

The rack goes into the water bath canner.

The lid is placed on the water bath canner and the timer is set for forty minutes.

                             

The tomato sauce is ready to store!  I've already used two jars in a batch of vegetarian chili and one jar in our second batch of Weight Watcher's soup (I'll be posting that recipe soon!)

          A Must-Have for the beginner and folks like me who, uh, forget stuff.....

Salvation belongs to the Lord.  Your blessing is upon Your people.  Psalm 3:8

                                                                   ~Jennifer

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